By drafting Williams, Redskins answer the line

The newest member of the Redskins organization, Trent Williams, a left tackle from Oklahoma.
By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 23, 2010

NEW YORK -- As he moved through the line of cameramen and notebook-toting inquisitors as if they were undersized defensive linemen, the creases on Trent Williams's face never disappeared.

"I haven't stopped smiling yet. I think my face might be stuck," said Williams.

The smiles stretched from Radio City Music Hall, site of the 2010 NFL draft, to Redskins Park, as Washington Coach Mike Shanahan made Williams, the versatile and athletic left tackle from the University of Oklahoma, his first-round selection.

Williams, the draft's fourth overall choice, instantly becomes an important cornerstone of the Redskins' revamped offense, charged with protecting the blindside of recently acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb.

"I've been watching him my whole life. It still doesn't feel real right now," said Williams, wearing a new Redskins cap. "I guess in training camp, I'll snap out of it."

The selection of Williams was the culmination of a busy day that featured plenty of chatter and rumors involving the Redskins, whose names were attached to several top picks, including quarterback Sam Bradford, safety Eric Berry and tackle Russell Okung, rated by many analysts as the draft's top offensive linemen.

But Shanahan opted for Williams because he feels the 6-foot-5, 315-pound former Sooner will be a better fit for the Redskins' blocking scheme. He first checked with Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops for a vote of confidence.

"I wanted to get a little reinforcement from him, he's been around a lot of good football players throughout his career," Shanahan said. "And there's not many athletes that are 315 pounds that can run that 4.8 range and show the type of athleticism that we look for. And we do run that zone-blocking scheme, a very agile offensive tackle is something we look for. Sometimes it's hard to find unless you do pick in the first round or early in the first round, and we think we found the guy that can really help us."

Many expected the Redskins to be active on the draft's first day, entertaining trade offers for players such as Jason Campbell and Albert Haynesworth, while also trying to move to a better draft position. The Redskins had discussions about moving down in the draft, but in the end, utilized their No. 4 pick.

"Very seldom when you're in the top five do people really pull the trigger," Shanahan said. "I think a lot has to do with the salary at that position, I think a lot has to do with what they have to give up and at the end of the day you have to feel comfortable with who you do pick and we feel, we felt fortunate that he was there especially with the needs of our football team."

The Redskins currently hold three more picks in this year's draft, but none in the second or third rounds, scheduled for Friday evening. They could still move Campbell in exchange for a late-round pick, and they haven't found a suitable trade partner for Haynesworth. Tennessee's Jeff Fisher told Tennessee reporters Thursday night the "door is shut" on any possibility of re-acquiring Haynesworth.

While the Redskins could try to beef up their defensive line later in the draft, the selection of Williams addresses the team's biggest need. Williams instantly becomes an anchor for an offensive line that was among the league's most embattled last year and figured to be even worse after left tackle Chris Samuels's retirement last month.

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